Alert! Alert! Only Four Weeks of Summer Remain!

I just checked: there are four weeks left in summer.

I’m not talking about official summer. (That ends September 22). I’m talking about school-year summer, the time when the kids are sitting next to you doing Legos (instead of being in school) while you try to write a blog post. (Oh, hai). Then they want to actually, you know, DO stuff with you. 

And you want to “do stuff” with them, too. That’s part of why you had kids, right? So you could sit in the bleachers and watch them solve a Rubik’s cube in 45 seconds flat?

Okay, maaaaaybe Rubik’s cube tournaments don’t light your fire, but you do like watching them do things they love and helping them learn new skills. Playing catch, going crabbing, splashing in the lake: family time is just more fun in the summer.

If you don’t have kids in your home, seasonal transitions might not feel so dramatic, but you still feel that subtle shift between spring and summer, that “oh, it’s sunny out! I’ll just go sit outside with a book for a bit, or wash the car, or pick berries, or hit the pool, or call up my girls and try that new tapas place, or take a quick trip to the ocean….”

There’s a natural human desire for sunshine and clear skies that naturally pulls us away from our writing caves. But the words written today might be printed next winter, and your editor doesn’t align your contract with the sun. Work has to get done no matter how lovely the weather!

My Big Idea was to bring my AlphaSmart Neo to my son’s BMX races (three times a week, at least two hours a pop. That’s six hours of thumb-twiddling time!).

AlphaSmart on my knees in the bleachers

I love watching him race, but each race lasts less than a minute. You can only see a couple of lines of text at a time, and it’s super annoying to delete or edit on the AlphsSmart, so this device demands fast drafting.

Surprisingly, I’m pretty productive on this sucker! Get one yourself for $30 or less on Ebay

What tricks have you employed to grab more writing time this summer?

What goals do you have for the next four weeks?


21 responses to “Alert! Alert! Only Four Weeks of Summer Remain!”

  1. Oh, I remember my youngest doing that BMX Bike thing, along with other sports. With four kids, I have logged in a lot of bleacher time and filled many notebooks while there.

    The thing with kids, they grow up and have kids of their own which on many days quadruples your kid work/play load. If I’m Grammy-In-Charge on what I consider my regular work day (M-F), I get up earlier and focus on my work for as long as I can. I also use those days to catch up on reading my RWR, industry blogs, or a craft book. I think about my plot or work on promo. I also tend to write blogs on the days where I need three sets of eyes in the back of my head. There is so much to do as a writer. The best advantage to this job is hour flexibility. I love it!

    Goal is to write through the middle of the current wip.

    FYI: We’re in the chatroom, working, every weekday if any of our readers want to join us. Some writers do work there on Saturday and Sundays also.

    • Jamie Michele says:

      Grammy-in-charge! Love it. I wrote this little post while my dude was putting together a new Lego set. Then I cleaned the floor while he sat on the floor listening to the Trolls soundtrack through headphones and singing along at the top of his lungs. Never tried that before — earned me an hour!

      Autumn, if you come back here today, could you maybe post instructions for how to get into the chatroom? I’m not sure how to do it, and there may be other readers who are wondering. Thanks!!

  2. jbrayweber says:

    I love summer (heat, humidity, and all) and don’t want it to end. I’m seriously appalled by how soon school is starting this year. In my mind, school should start no sooner than September 1st. But I digress. I have a teen and an elementary age child. Both have activities that keep me from my desk—hockey, girl scouts, drill team, cheer, etc. And then there is sitting in the car line at school for an hour to pick up my youngest. This has been going on for, like, ever. I carry a notebook with me everywhere and write longhand. For me, it’s like a round of editing when I transfer words from paper to the keyboard. I also carry a clipboard with me for editing pages. Nope, no thumb-twiddling for me!

    Great post, Jamie!


    • Jamie Michele says:

      You write by longhand!! I cannot. I think I’ve written a page or two while in a workshop over the years, but it’s not really the same. I’m always itching to get back to a keyboard.

      Do you really write a scene longhand? Or, like, sketch out dialogue or outline a chapter? Do you do a lot of editing when you input it?

      • jbrayweber says:

        I *do* write longhand. In fact, I used to prefer it. And no, it’s not sketching or outlining. It’s writing. The editing comes from typing the written word in, but it’s not a detailed edit. But…I often find better ways to express myself while translating from paper to screen.

  3. Tamara Hogan says:

    I don’t have kids, so I’m “seasonless” as far as the school year is concerned. This has led me to make some pretty oblivious decisions, such as thinking I’d make a quick stop at the Mall of America on a Friday, only to find all the schools in Minnesota are off that day. Or bringing pants to the tailor for hemming…the week before prom or Homecoming. 😐

    Goal-wise: I will finish line edits on my October release, ENTHRALL ME, tomorrow.

    • Jamie Michele says:

      WOO-HOO!!! Congratulations on the near-end of Enthrall Me!!

      I haven’t worked an office job in like a decade, so I make similarly silly mistakes, like forgetting about “rush hour” and bank holidays.

  4. I don’t have kids, but conference time is always a big distraction for me. I took a few days after RWA to play at Disney with my (adult) family, but now I need to get back in gear. For me it always helps to get my brain into writing mode early, even if I’m only squeezing in five minutes before the craziness of the day starts.

    I’ve heard other people say they love Alpha-Smarts for getting words in. Great tip, Jamie!

    • Jamie Michele says:

      RWA is super-distracting, especially if you’re involved as an award nominee or presenter. (Or, say, running the awards ceremony, right?). I think a lot of us don’t really “dress to impress” outside of conference season, so there’s always a lot of tailoring and shoe shopping that must be done beforehand!

      I learned about Alphasmarts in an RWA workshop several years ago on productivity. It was one of the best workshops I’ve ever been to — just a ton of concrete advice. I learned that some writers are so productive in their spare time that they’ll write on their phones while waiting in line. Like, with their thumbs.

      I once wrote a book left-handed, but that’s three more fingers than you can use on a phone!

  5. Darynda Jones says:

    I’ve thought about getting an AlphaSmart so many times! I love that you can’t get onto the internet and editing is difficult on it. Hmmmm… I think you sold me on this. LOL.

    Great post, Jamie! I find writing in the evenings most productive in the summer. And, well, pretty much any time. No real demands on my time then.

    • Jamie Michele says:

      They’re so cheap that it’s hard to regret having bought one. Give it a go! They’re awesome for working outside.

      I’ve been thinking about writing more in the evening. I tend to get antsy about all the things I need to do during the day. And I feel more awake at 8 PM than I do at 8 AM, that’s for sure!!

  6. Julia Day says:

    I send myself texts via my smartphone. I setup the message to go to my email account, click the little microphone to collect voice-to-text, and start speaking. They’re usually choppy phrases that end up in my gmail, but enough to remind me where I was going with the idea. So now, at work, whenever I have a free 5 minutes, I get work done.

    Also, from a Mom who is about to send her baby off to grad school, LOVE these precious moments!

    • Jamie Michele says:

      OH, that’s clever! I definitely dictate notes while driving (I get ALL of my creative breakthroughs while driving alone) and that’s a helpful suggestion to try voice-to-text messages. Then I don’t have to listen to myself ramble.

      I really, truly do cherish my time with my son (especially now that he’s a fairly rational little being). I make a lot of decisions based on my keen awareness of how few years I have to snuggle with him. He’s still pretty young, but it’s like the years are moving more quickly now that it’s not such drudgery to take care of him.

      I will weep when I send him to college!!

    • Oh, I love it! I will need to try that from my phone. I do use voice to text on my ipad and then email it. Awesome idea. Thanks.

  7. Jacie Floyd says:

    Living in southwest Florida, summer lasts all year long. School schedules and kid sports no longer are a factor for me, but other people wanting to visit us on their vacations has a big impact. That said, I usually go to the RWA conference each year, and when I get back from that, it seems like summer is over.

    Thanks for the post, Jamie.

    • Jamie Michele says:

      I guess that’s the price you pay for living in paradise!

      I love visiting my mother — she lives near a lake in the dessert — but I’m always happy to get back home, where I can wear pants almost year around. I love pants.

      The RWA con is such a major annual event, isn’t it? It gives the summer shape. I miss attending, but it’s also an easy $2000 and hard to justify some years. I’m hoping to go to Denver next year, but I told myself I’d only go if I was up for a Rita…which means I’d need to release a book this year!

  8. School starts next Wednesday here! Yikes. I’ll have a high schooler (gulp) a middle schooler and an elementary kid (plus my husband works at university, so it’s like having one in college sometimes LOL). This summer was an intentional break for us all, but I’m hoping to get back into a groove next week, so this post is timely. I’ll have to check out that AlphaSmart! How do you transfer files?

    My goal is to finish the Halloween novella I’ve been working on, like, forever…

  9. Cynthia Huscroft says:

    I’ve been on a mini-vaca visiting family and this is the first blog I’ve read in about a week.

    No kids here, either…well, a fur kid:) Even so, sometimes knuckling down is difficult. Love all the shared tips and tricks to get some thing done while doing “nothing”;)

  10. Summer is flying! Thanks for the tip about the Alphasmart, Jamie. Would love a way to up my word count.


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